Pollen count soars to highest in four years

If your eyes are watering, your nose is itching and your car is covered in a yellowish dust, blame it on the oak pollen. The oak pollen counts have spiked to their highest level in four years.

Friday's count was 28,330 grains per cubic meter. For comparison, even a count of 3,000 is considered heavy.

At Bubbles Car Wash, 5503 Babcock Road, it was bumper-to-bumper business. There was clear evidence spring had sprung and it was all over car owners' hoods.

"We walked outside in the morning and the car was completely yellow," said Crystal Aitaegbebhunu.

While the seasonal pollen is great for car washes, it's microscopic misery for allergy sufferers.

"I suffered last night," said Jim Mosely. "I get all stuffed up and congested."

Oak allergy season is in full bloom and the high winds really kick up the pollen.

"It doesn't take that much to make you feel bad," said Dr. Dennis Dilley, with Dilley Allergy and Asthma Specialists.

Dilley said oak pollen can particularly affect an allergic person's eyes.

"People get really puffy eyes, very itchy, a lot of discharge from the eye, watering, nose sneezing and itching, and the skin will even itch," he said.

For mild symptoms, he said there are plenty of over-the-counter medications available, such as Zyrtec, Claritin, Allegra and steroid nasal sprays like Nasacort.

"The key is taking them ahead of time," he said.

If those treatments don't help, he suggested seeing an allergist or a family doctor.

Often, simple washing can alleviate a lot of the misery, he said.

"We often underscore the use of the nasal saline, salt water. That helps a lot. Even just washing your eyes out with cold water," he said.

Other than that, he said stay indoors when possible.

In the meantime, grab a tissue. 

Dr. Dilley expects the pollen to be a menace through the end of April because the season began late and many of the trees have yet to bloom.

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